Late comeback falls short for Knights at Ithaca, 83-78
Ithaca, NY – An 11-1 run in the final three and a half minutes wasn't enough to overcome a double-digit deficit as the Clarkson University Men's Basketball team was edged by Ithaca 83-78 in Liberty League action Friday evening.
The Golden Knights saw their playoff chances take a bit of a hit, dropping to 5-9 in conference games and to 9-12 overall, while Ithaca jumped to 13-9 and 8-7. Clarkson will take on Union on Saturday afternoon, entering the day two games out of the final playoff spot with four to play.Down by 15 points with less than four minutes to go, Clarkson chipped away at the Ithaca lead and nearly made an unlikely comeback. Trailing 82-67, Liam Ellis made a seemingly harmless layup at the 3:22 mark to get the Knights to within 13, but another layup from Matt Higgins was followed by a Higgins 3-pointer and a second Ellis layup, reducing the margin to just six with more than 90 seconds remaining. Higgins hit a jumper with 55 seconds remaining to get Clarkson within four, but that was as close as the Knights would get.
On the short end of some runs in the first half, the Golden Knights saw a one-point lead (13-12) evaporate quickly by going 0-for-6 from the field with three turnovers as Ithaca rattled off 12 straight. A few minutes later, Ithaca went on another 11-2 run to build a 15-point advantage (35-20). The only reason Clarkson didn't trail by that amount at the break was a streak of six points from Matt Higgins in the final two minutes. Ithaca took 12 more shots from the floor than Clarkson did in the first half, thanks to an overwhelming turnover margin that saw the Knights cough up the ball an uncharacteristic 11 times in the first half. The Knights entered the game averaging only 12.45 turnovers per game.
Clarkson was back within 10 on several occasions in the opening moments of the second half and found itself trailing by exactly 10 after a Matt Higgins 3-pointer at the 15:33 mark. However, Ithaca scored 10 points in less than 90 seconds to expand its lead to 20. For most of the second half, the Bombers enjoyed a double-digit advantage and things didn't get interesting until the final four minutes of the game.
Higgins finished with 24 points, shooting 9-for-20 from the floor, and Ellis added 20 points and seven assists. Gary Hanley also chipped in eight points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while Roburt Welch shot 5-for-6 from the field for 13 points.
For Ithaca, Peter Ezema scored a massive double-double on 27 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 11-for-22 from the floor. Riley Thompson tossed in 17 points and Mile Herman also contributed a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 14 minutes off the bench.